IDF squad in Gaza op gone awry reached Hamas leader Sinwar’s house — report
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IDF squad in Gaza op gone awry reached Hamas leader Sinwar’s house — report

In scoff at remarks by Bennett, who claimed that soldiers overcautious due to punishment from MAG, senior defense official offers window into operation last week in coastal enclave

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Israeli special forces train in Cyprus as part of a binational exercise in early December 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Israeli special forces train in Cyprus as part of a binational exercise in early December 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

In rare critique, army chief blasts Bennett’s comment about IDF lawyers

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett’s criticism of the army’s Military Advocate General, which he said helped prevent soldiers from carrying out their warfighting duties, draws a rare rebuke from the IDF’s chief of staff.

Bennett made the comments at a press conference in the Knesset in which he reneged on his ultimatum to resign from the government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not appoint him defense minister.

Citing Israel’s “deep security crisis,” he said the country “has stopped winning” since the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

The comment draws rare criticism of a politician from the IDF’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who opened today’s meeting with the army’s general staff by backing Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek.

“The MAG [corps] is part of the IDF’s strength. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the army’s commanders and warriors in carrying out their operational goals and winning on the battlefield,” Eisenkot says in comments released by his office to the press.

“Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek has carried out his duties with professionalism and excellence, and is respected both within the IDF and outside it,” Eisenkot adds.

The chief of staff demands that the IDF be “kept out of the political debate.”

AG joins defense of military advocate general panned by Bennett

Bennett’s comments also draw criticism from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a retired major general who once headed the MAG corps.

“There is no truth to that statement,” Mandelblit says of Bennett’s criticism.

The army’s commitment to abide by the laws of war, he says, was “a source of strength for the IDF, its commanders and its soldiers. The officers of the MAG corps work alongside commanders in the field with the shared goal of achieving the objectives of combat.”

He adds that the MAG corps under Afek enabled the army to “defeat our enemies,” and “was an inseparable part of Israel’s national resilience.”

Bennett’s criticism of the IDF came during a dramatic announcement Monday morning that he would not force new elections, enabling Netanyahu’s razor-thin majority coalition to remain intact for the time being.

IDF spokesperson calls out Liberman for calling army’s Gaza policy ‘flimsy’

IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis calls out former defense minister Avigdor Liberman for characterizing the army’s strategy in Gaza as “flimsy.”

“Whoever says that last week’s IDF operation was flimsy, just does not understand,” Manelis says at media conference in Eilat.

“Most Israeli citizens simply do not know the details,” he adds, sending a similar message to the one sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to explain his decision to not launch a military operation in Gaza — a move which led Liberman to resign last week.

“I understand that the expectation was that we would embark on a ground operation, but the last thing one can say is that our use of force was weak,” Manelis says

Germany says will bar 18 Saudis over Khashoggi murder

Germany will bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says.

Maas says the move was “coordinated very closely with” France and Britain and the broader EU as they seek more information in Khashoggi’s death last month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Berlin has “decided that Germany should impose an entry ban on 18 Saudi citizens, who are presumed to be in connection with this deed, in the Schengen information system,” Maas tells reporters.

“We are in close coordination on this issue within the European Union,” he says, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

“Over the weekend, we stated that we expected further steps to be taken to clarify the situation. We will follow on this closely and reserve further steps for ourselves.”

— AFP

Iran’s Rouhani says US has ‘failed to stop oil exports’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says that US sanctions would not prevent his country from exporting oil and that Iran would not give into pressure from Washington, Reuters reports.

“America blames us for its failures in the region,” Rouhani says during speech in the city of Khoy, which is being broadcast live on television. “We will not yield to this pressure that is part of the psychological war against Iran.”

“They have failed to stop our oil exports,” he says of US sanctions. “We will keep exporting it.”

Palestinian woman arrested at checkpoint with knife hidden in her belongings

Security forces arrest a 25-year-old Palestinian woman who was trying to enter Israel through the Qalandiya checkpoint with a knife hidden in her belongings. She has been transferred for questioning.

Bennett refuses to apologize for saying MAG preventing soldiers from carrying out their duties

The office of Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett says he will not apologize for saying that the army’s Military Advocate General prevents soldiers from carrying out their fighting duties, despite criticism from the IDF chief of staff.

“He does not intend to apologize for or retract his remarks,” a party spokesperson says. “He believes that we are making ourselves jump through excess legal hoops, and this harms both operations and fighters.”

During a speech in which he reneged on his ultimatum to resign from the government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not appoint him defense minister, Bennett complained that the army was too concerned with the legalities of war to fight properly, saying, “Our warriors are more worried about the military advocate general than about [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar in Gaza.”

The comment drew rare criticism of a politician from the IDF’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who opened Monday’s meeting with the army’s general staff by backing Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek.

— Raoul Wootliff

Lapid blasts PM for using Israel’s security to solve his political problems

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid slams Benjamin Netanyahu for “using security to solve political problems,” after the prime minister named himself yesterday as defense minister and said it was wrong to bring down the government during “this sensitive security period.”

Speaking at his Yesh Atid faction meeting in the Knesset after Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett announced he would not be forcing early elections, Lapid said, “The behavior of Netanyahu and his ministers is a shameful circus of politicians who only care about their chairs, their portfolios.”

Netanyahu has used the coalition crisis to distract from the fact that “four days ago he surrendered to Yahya Sinwar,” Lapid says, referring to the ceasefire deal with the Hamas leader.

Meanwhile, he continued, “residents of the south are still licking their wounds, still wondering why the government has abandoned them, looking up and seeing, again, incendiary balloons.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Saudi king’s speech makes no mention of slain journalist

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has given his first major speech since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, expressing support for his son, the crown prince, and making no mention of the accusations that the prince ordered the killing.

Today’s speech highlighted the kingdom’s priorities for the coming year, focusing on issues such as the war in Yemen, security for Palestinians, stability in the oil market, countering rival Iran and job creation for Saudis. It did not mention Khashoggi.

The king makes no reference to the firestorm around Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying only that he has directed him to put additional focus on developing the capabilities of Saudi youth.

The CIA has concluded Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s October 2 killing, which Saudi Arabia vehemently denies.

— AP

Liberman: Bennett and Shaked too glued to their seats to resign

Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman mocks Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked as being too attached to their positions in the cabinet to make the principled decision to resign.

“I listened to ministers Bennett and Shaked today, and there, too, there was no connection to responsibility or security,” Liberman says during a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, scoffing at the reasoning the Jewish Home leaders gave today for why they will remain in the government.

“They stick to their chairs (ministerial posts) at any price and justify it with every possible argument,” he adds, saying Bennett and Shaked were unable to withstand the pressure against them.

Responding to Bennett, PM assures that IDF soldiers ‘are not afraid of anyone’

Responding to claims by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets that “IDF soldiers are not afraid of anyone.”

The one line post comes after Bennett’s criticism of the army’s Military Advocate General, which he said helped prevent soldiers from carrying out their fighting duties.

During a speech earlier today in which he announced that his party would remain in the government, Bennett complained that the army was too concerned with the legalities of war to fight properly, saying, “We impose on our warriors legal and conceptual hoops” they must jump through. “Our warriors are more worried about the Military Advocate General than about [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar in Gaza.”

Despite Bennett’s folding, Kahlon predicts elections still forthcoming

Hours after Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced that they would remain in the government, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon tells his Kulanu faction that he still does not believe the coalition will remain intact for much longer.

“It’s hard to believe the business will hold. Elections will be held in March,” he says.

 

With Bennett’s ultimatum dropped, PM says government will last another year

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells his Likud faction that with the threat made by the Jewish Home party to bolt the coalition rescinded, he expects the government to last another year.

“I spoke with the leaders of the coalition parties, and I am happy to see that my efforts have borne fruit. We have a whole year with a lot to do,” he says.

“But in order to continue together we must show coalition discipline — no one can go rogue. Cabinet meetings must not become a tool for leaks and political slurs,” he adds.

PM assures faction, supporters that he’s not going anywhere

In a brief but emphatic speech to lawmakers and cheering party activists, Netanyahu says that he is not going anywhere soon.

“I don’t need others to protect me. I protect. I protect this country, I protect the security, I protect our children,” the prime minister says. “There has never been a prime minister who has faced so many pressures and has stood up to them. Others would have run away. It won’t happen with me.”

— Raoul Wootliff

PM assures party that Beduin hamlet will be demolished ‘very soon’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assures his Likud party that the central West Bank Beduin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar will be demolished, though he refuses to say when.

“Khan al-Ahmar will be demolished very soon. I will not tell you when, but we are preparing for it,” he says.

 

British FM in Iran for talks on Yemen, prisoners

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is visiting Iran for the first time for talks about the conflict in Yemen and freeing UK nationals held in Iranian jails.

It is the first visit to Tehran by a Western foreign minister since the United States withdrew from the multi-nation nuclear deal in May.

Hunt is meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and they discussed plans to keep trade flowing in spite of renewed US sanctions, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

But Hunt is particularly focusing on the conflict in Yemen, where Iran is accused of supplying weapons to Houthi rebels.

“We are very, very keen to move towards peace in Yemen. That’s our number one priority at the moment,” he tells the BBC.

“But also we have the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual nationals here who are in prison and shouldn’t be. We want to get them home.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition.

“I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage,” Hunt said in a statement before leaving London.

Britain is determined to keep Iran in the nuclear deal, technically known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearized Iran,” Hunt said in the statement.

— AFP

UN draft resolution calls for Yemen truce, two weeks to unblock aid

A UN draft resolution on Yemen presented to the Security Council calls for an immediate truce in the port city of Hodeida and sets a two-week deadline for the warring sides to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid, according to the draft seen by AFP.

Britain circulated the draft to the 14 other council members after hearing a report on Friday from a UN envoy working to arrange peace talks in Sweden to end the nearly four-year war.

— AFP

Putin and Erdogan mark key phase in natural gas pipeline

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mark the completion of a key phase of TurkStream, a natural gas pipeline connecting the two countries.

Speaking at a ceremony in Istanbul, Erdogan announces the offshore part of TurkStream’s two parallel lines two kilometers deep in the Black Sea had been finished and said the final leg of the “historic project” had been reached.

The lines are expected to supply Russian gas to Turkey and European markets through Turkish territories. Together, the two 930-kilometer (578-mile) lines under the Black Sea, along with the Russian and Turkish onshore pipes, will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters (1.1 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas annually.

“We are witnessing a very important event that is a clear demonstration of a partnership and cooperation between our countries in dealing with the most complex and ambitious projects,” Putin says.

Erdogan says the two countries aimed for long-term cooperation and their relationship was not dictated by “other countries’ impositions.”

“The implementation of projects like this one is a good example of an ability to stand up for one’s own national interests,” Putin adds.

The remarks appear to be referring to the Kremlin’s long-standing position that some European nations are giving up lucrative deals with Russia under pressure from the United States.

Turkey relies on imports for its energy needs and Russia is its top supplier for natural gas. It bought 28 billion cubic meters last year. That gas is currently transported through another line under the Black Sea and the onshore West Line through Ukraine, which is mired in conflict with Russia.

— AP

UNESCO launches Holocaust education website

The UN culture and education agency has teamed up with the World Jewish Congress to launch a website to counter Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and WJC President Ronald Lauder unveil the interactive “Facts about the Holocaust” site at the cultural agency’s Paris headquarters today.

It features a trove of historical information about the Holocaust, including testimonies, and is linked to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Online Holocaust Encyclopedia.

The new site has been conceived to combat what UNESCO calls “increased hate and disinformation online” on Jewish issues. It comes five months after the organization launched the UN’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism.

The pro-Jewish initiatives inside UNESCO come as Israel prepares its withdrawal from the agency amid accusations that it fosters anti-Jewish bias.

— AP

25 said injured by Israeli troops as hundreds of Palestinians protest on Gaza border

Hundreds of Palestinians are rioting along the northern border of the Gaza Strip, throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers on the other side of the security fence, the army says.

Israeli troops are responding with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire, an IDF spokesperson says.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 25 people have been injured to varying degrees by Israeli troops.

A military spokesperson says approximately 800 people are participating in the border riots — a decrease from previous weeks.

In addition, the army says several dozen ships set sail from the Palestinian enclave — in an apparent attempt to break through the naval blockade Israel has in place around Gaza — in what it says is an effort to keep terror groups in the Strip from obtaining weapons and war materiel.

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.

— Judah Ari Gross

UN Middle East envoy calls on sides to maintain reestablished calm

UN special envoy Nikolay Mladenov says his team, along with Egyptian officials, worked closely with Israel and Hamas in order to ensure a return to the ceasefire arrangement reached after the 2014 Gaza war.

“Thankfully, a precarious restoration of calm has now been achieved. We must all work 2 ensure that this calm is maintained,” he tweets.

CNN says White House preparing to eject reporter again

CNN reports it asked for a new emergency hearing to allow its reporter Jim Acosta to remain at the White House, saying officials are threatening to again revoke his press pass.

The statement from the cable news channel comes just three days after a federal judge ordered the White House to allow Acosta’s return citing a lack of “due process” — without ruling on CNN’s argument that the ejection violated constitutional free press guarantees.

CNN says it received a letter Friday, hours after the judge’s ruling, indicating the White House planned to revoke Acosta’s press pass again after the 14-day temporary restraining order expires.

“The White House is continuing to violate the First and Fifth Amendments of the constitution,” the network said in a statement Sunday.

“These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the president.”

— AFP

UN envoy says impact of funds transferred to Hamas, while temporary, are already being felt

The UN’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process says the impact of the Qatari fuel funds, which Israel allowed to be transferred to Gaza earlier this month, is already being felt.

“The impact has been immediate — the water supply has increased; risk of sewage overflow has been reduced; hospitals are less dependent on precarious generators; street lights are on again; children can study and play more; and families have more cash in hand to meet their daily needs,” says Nikolay Mladenov in his briefing to the Security Council.

“These improvements, however, are temporary. They provide much-needed relief, but can do little to reverse the long-standing, structural problems affecting Gaza, driven by years of crippling closures and Hamas control,” he adds.

Airbnb to remove listings in Israeli settlements

The Airbnb home-renting company announces that it will remove its listings located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The corporation says in a press release that it had completed a reexamination of its policy, which had previously allowed such listings since “people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people.”

However, after consulting with various authorities, the company decides to drop roughly 200 listings in the settlements.

“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” Airbnb says.

The statement does not specify when the decision will go into effect, or whether Israeli homes in the annexed East Jerusalem will also be dropped from Airbnb’s listings.

— Jacob Magid

Mladenov calls on Israel to cease use of live fire against Gaza protesters

UN special envoy Nikolay Mladenov tells the Security Council that he remains “very concerned by Israel’s persistent use of live fire against protesters” in Gaza.

He “calls on the authorities to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from using lethal force, except as a last resort.”

UN envoy slams Hamas ‘indiscriminate’ rocket fire at southern Israel

During his briefing in front of the UN Security Council, Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov “calls on Hamas and other Palestinian militants to end the indiscriminate firing of rockets into southern Israel, and to stop all violence near the fence, including attempts to breach it.”

Settler leader slams Airbnb decision to remove listings in Israeli homes beyond Green Line

Efrat local council Chairman Oded Revivi pans Airbnb’s decision to remove its listings in Israeli settlements.

“It is disappointing to see the site surrender to extreme pressure, thereby damaging the essence of its existence as well as its uniqueness,” says Revivi, who also serves as the foreign envoy for the Yesha settlement umbrella council.

“The advantage of the site is its ability to bring people together for conversation and questions — and not just make money,” he continues in a statement.

“The decision does an injustice to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, constitutes a surrender to extremists and is a mistake that distances peace.”

Joint List leader laments being seated next to newest opposition member Avigdor Liberman

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh laments the seating placement of new opposition member Avigdor Liberman right next to him in the Knesset.

“I’m considering resigning from the opposition,” Odeh tweets, mocking Liberman who resigned from his position as defense minister last week. The Joint List chairman attaches a photo of him looking less-than-excited to be seated next to the Yisrael Beytenu leader, who has regularly called Odeh and his fellow faction MKs “terrorists.”

The decision meant Liberman and the other four Yisrael Beytenu lawmakers received new seats with the other opposition parties in the Knesset.

 

Tourism Minister orders office to pursue punitive measures against Airbnb

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin calls on Airbnb to walk back its “discriminatory” decision to remove its listings in Israeli settlements.

Levin stresses that this was a disgraceful and miserable decision, and a disgraceful surrender to society.

According to a statement from his office, Levin has ordered his office to “formulate immediate measures to limit the company’s activity throughout the country.”

He also instructed his ministry “to implement a special program to encourage tourism and accommodation in vacation apartments throughout Judea and Samaria.”

Peace Now lauds Airbnb decision to drop listings in Israeli settlements

The Peace Now settlement watchdog lauds the decision by Airbnb to drop its listings in Israeli homes beyond the Green Line.

“Even if the Green Line is invisible to Netanyahu and Bennett, the rest of the world distinguishes between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories,” the left-wing NGO says.

“International companies are interested in doing business with the State of Israel, but are unwilling to accept the continued military control of millions of Palestinians.”

“If the government really wants to eliminate BDS — then it will end the occupation,” the group’s statement concludes.

Human Rights Watch praises Airbnb decision to drop settlement listings

Human Rights Watch praises Airbnb’s decision to drop its listings in Israeli settlements — a move that came less than a day before the NGO is slated to release a report criticizing the company for the practice.

“Airbnb’s decision to end its listings in Israeli settlements is an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities,” HRW says in a statement.

“For two years, Human Rights Watch has spoken with Airbnb about their brokering of rentals in West Bank settlements that are illegal under international humanitarian law and for which Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred from entering, and are issuing a report about this tomorrow. We urge other companies to follow suit,” the NGO continues.

Its report, entitled “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements,” will be released tomorrow morning in Jerusalem.

Strategic affairs minister blasts Airbnb decision as ‘surrender’ to BDS

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office is charged with combating boycotts of Israel, calls Airbnb’s decision to drop listings in the settlements a “surrender” to the BDS movement.

“This is a misguided decision that constitutes surrender to the anti-Semitic BDS organizations,” Erdan says in a statement. “It is based on political considerations rather than business considerations.”

In its calls for boycott, the BDS movement does not differentiate between Israel proper and the West Bank settlements — a distinction that Aibnb does make in its decision.

PA officials cheer Airbnb decision to drop listings in Israeli settlements

Palestinian Authority officials praise the Airbnb home-renting company for removing its listings located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“We believe Airbnb made the correct decision,” Walid Assaf, head of the PA’s Commission Against the Wall and Settlements, tells The Times of Israel. “Its decision corresponds with the United Nations Security Council resolution 2334.”

UN Security Council resolution 2334 states the establishment of settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

Assaf, who also serves on the Fatah Revolutionary Council, adds that he believes Airbnb’s decision will support efforts to advance the peace process.

“We believe this decision advances the peace process and the two-state solution, which Israel would like to erase through settlement building,” he says. “We call on all companies not to operate in the settlements.”

Abbas adviser Saeb Erekat refers to the decision by Airbnb as “an initial positive step,” but calls on the company to follow suit with its listings in East Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, but most of the international community has not accepted the move.

with Adam Rasgon

Liberman said to offer ‘security net’ to coalition after size dips to 61

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, whose party now sits in the opposition after he resigned from his posting as defense minister last week, offered the 61-member coalition a “security net” to help it pass legislation, Channel 10 reports.

In exchange for Yisrael Beytenu votes in favor of Culture Minister Miri Regev’s legislation that would see state funding for the arts contingent on “loyalty,” the right-wing lawmaker is asking the coalition to back his “death penalty for terrorists” bill.

IDF squad in botched Gaza op reached Hamas leader Sinwar’s house — report

The special forces squad from the botched operation last week in Gaza has reached the home of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, Hadashot news reports.

The TV channel quotes a senior defense official who, in his scoffing at remarks made by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, provided a window into the extent of risk the Israeli soldiers took in their covert operation last week that resulted in the death of  Lt. Col. Mem and seven Palestinian fighters.

Bennett, during his announcement today that his Jewish Home faction would be remaining in the government, claimed that IDF soldiers are more afraid of the military advocate general than they are of Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar.

In response to the remark, a senior defense official tells Hadashot news, “the soldiers were not scared when they were next to the home of Sinwar.”

Iran judiciary criticizes money-laundering claims

Iran’s judiciary chief says that government officials must not make accusations of vast money-laundering operations by powerful institutions, which could be exploited by the enemy.

The criticism follows statements by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the Khabar Online news agency last week, in which he said: “Money laundering is a reality in our country, and a lot of people are benefiting from it.”

Zarif said “thousands of billions” of rials were being laundered by unnamed organizations in Iran, and that these groups were behind efforts to block new laws against money-laundering and terrorist-financing.

“If there is huge money-laundering in the country, why did you not report this to the judiciary?” says Sadegh Larijani, judiciary chief, in a speech today, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

“The enemy’s best tool is economic pressure… In such a situation, officials are expected not to make two-sided statements that could be misused by the enemy,” he adds, without naming Zarif.

The government introduced four new laws this year aimed at meeting demands set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors global efforts to counter money-laundering and terrorist-financing.

— AFP

In Ethiopia, Jews protest Israeli government over immigration delays

Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews have gathered in the capital, Addis Ababa, to protest the Israeli government’s decision not to allow all of them to emigrate to Israel, leaving their families divided between the two countries.

Representatives of the 8,000 Jews in Ethiopia are urging the Ethiopian Jews living in Israel to think carefully before voting for the ruling Likud party over the delays in repatriation to Israel.

The Ethiopian Jews claim they are being blocked from emigrating to Israel, despite a 2015 pledge from the Israeli government allowing them to do so.

The Israeli government decided on October 7 that just 1,000 Ethiopian Jews would be permitted to move to Israel, which would leave many families divided, according to leaders of Ethiopia’s Jewish community. They said Ethiopian Jews are starving, ostracized and deprived of basic needs in Africa, while the government in Israel is “dragging its feet to come to our rescue.”

— AP

In threat to Pelosi, 16 Dems say they’ll back new leadership

Sixteen maverick Democrats have released a letter saying they’ll vote for “new leadership” when the House picks leaders in January. That poses a threat to Nancy Pelosi’s effort to become speaker.

The California Democrat is favored by most Democrats to lead them, as she has done since 2003, when the new Congress convenes in January. Pelosi seems sure to win her party’s nomination to be speaker when Democrats vote on that after Thanksgiving.

A small group opposes her. Their letter says Democrats won on “a message of change,” and they say they plan to deliver that.

Democrats have won 232 seats and might win a few more. Sixteen votes against Pelosi might block her from getting the 218 votes, a House majority, that she’d need to win the speakership.

— AP

Saudi crown prince to attend G-20 summit in first trip abroad since Khashoggi murder — report

Saudi media is reporting that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will attend the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires later this month.

It would be the first trip abroad for the crown prince after the October 2 slaying of writer Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, and would bring him face to face with world leaders from the US, Turkey, and European countries.

President Donald Trump and other leaders are expected to attend the two-day summit that begins November 30. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on the kingdom, is also expected to attend.

Saudi media outlets, including Al-Arabiya, reports that the crown prince’s stop in Argentina will be part of a foreign tour, but no further details were immediately released.

— AP

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